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By Tom Burns
Drinking and weight loss have never really gone hand-in-hand. Maybe it’s because we’re so familiar with the concept of a “beer gut” or maybe it’s because that third vodka-cranberry makes us 70% more likely to make the Uber driver stop for Taco Bell our way home from the bar.
But, interestingly enough, there is evidence that suggests there are TWO big ways that drinking actually can help you lose weight — in one good way and in one bad way.
Let’s start with the good. A 2010 study from Archives of Internal Medicine noted that women who were regular moderate drinkers, having one to two glasses of alcohol a day, were less likely to gain weight than people that didn’t drink at all.
The key is in the regular and moderate consumption of alcohol. (We can do that.)
We’ve all heard how booze is filled with empty calories. Our bodies burn off the alcohol and then whatever is left over (sugar, hops, potato skins) is converted into fat. Hence, the notion of the beer gut and the creation of things like “skinny prosecco.” (That’s why alcohol isn’t normally associated with having a positive body image.)
However, the study argues that your metabolism reacts different to alcohol if you train it to handle moderate amounts. So, if you binge-drink or if you have a Bloody Mary once in a blue moon, your body either can’t handle or has no experience with metabolizing the booze, so everything gets converted into fat.
BUT if you have a regular, every-day, non-excessive alcohol intake, your body actually knows how to metabolize the alcohol properly and you also get the wider benefits of the increased metabolism.
Lu Wang, the head researcher for the study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told Women’s Health, that the bodies of moderate, regular drinkers “use more energy, burning the calories in the drink — or even more than that — while digesting it.”
And that metabolism boost actually helps them lose weight easier than people who don’t drink at all. (Suck on that, Teetotalers!)
So, if you train your body with a regular booze regimen, it can help you lose weight, which sounds like the best health program EVER.
However, there is also a BAD way that alcohol can help you lose weight, if you’re less into moderation and more into self-destruction.
If you’re an alcoholic, drinking excessively will cause you to drop pounds, but in the worst ways possible.
Drinking large amounts of booze can trick your stomach into thinking its full — and while that sounds like the science behind a SlimFast shake — it can really mess up your body.
It triggers a huge increase in the amount of stomach acid you produce, which can cause dyspepsia, chronic vomiting, or an overall sour stomach or abdominal pain. Alcohol abuse can also cause your liver to deteriorate or shut down completely — that can help you lose weight because it’s straight-up killing you. So, on the plus side, you might leave behind a great looking corpse.
What have we learned?
Your body likes it when you know how to handle your liquor.
Be a consistent, responsible drinker — don’t feel guilty about that after-work scotch — and your body will actually thank you for it with more confidence and a maybe even a nice flat tummy.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.